After watching his season fade away right in front of him, something needed to change for Cody Anderson in the winter of 2014.
Following the season where Anderson received the Bob Feller Award for being the best minor league pitcher in the Indians farm system in 2013, Anderson had the worst season of his career. Taking this tragedy to heart, Anderson took the time to understand what went wrong, made his adjustments, and came into 2015 with a different attitude.
It all started with not chopping wood in the off-season. He knew that he needed to get his agility back, and not feel so bulky on the mound.
I think we all know how that worked out for him.
After starting the season in Double-A Akron, Anderson looked nothing like the pitcher he was the season before. He was lean, agile, and above all, he was dominant on the mound again. In 2014, he posted an ERA of 5.44 and a record of 4-11. He struck out 81 and walked 45 in 125.2 innings. Coming into 2015, he decided he needed to change his workout routine and find a way to get back to feeling comfortable in his body again.
In ten starts at Double-A in 2015, Anderson posted an ERA of 1.73 in 52 innings and had a record of 3-2. He looked like a different pitcher overall and he had much more consistency than he did in all of the previous season. He pitched so well that he warranted a promotion to Triple-A Columbus where he continued to throw fire.
His time in Columbus was short lived though, as he only made three starts for the Clippers. In those starts, he had an ERA of 2.33, a record of 1-1, and was holding batters to a .239 average overall. When T.J. House finally fell into the disabled list purgatory, Anderson was called up to The Show. After 2014, there was no way Anderson was thinking he’d be in Cleveland in 2015, and he was there before the All-Star Break.
When Anderson arrived, he was viewed as a potential stop gap until either House could come back to the rotation, or someone else could take his spot. Bruce Chen had had his chance, and Shaun Marcum wasn’t fit for the MLB anymore. Once Anderson arrived, he made it clear that he didn’t want to leave. The young right-hander made it abundantly clear that 2014 was just a fluke and that he could take on the role that this rotation had been looking for since before the season started.
Initially, the fifth rotation spot was to be occupied by Gavin Floyd, but his career of injuries followed him to Goodyear, Arizona, and he sat out almost the entire season. This lead to House and Zach McAllister taking over the last two spots of the rotation, with Danny Salazar starting the season in Triple-A Columbus. After watching the two starters falter, McAllister and House were eventually removed from the rotation, and were replaced with Salazar and, eventually, Anderson.
In his first round in the MLB, Anderson shined. He flirted with multiple no-hitters and pitched better than he ever did during his time in Akron. In his 15 starts with the Tribe, he had an ERA of 3.05, a WHIP of 1.106, a record of 7-3, and struck out 44 while walking 24 batters. He was absolutely dominant on the mound in almost every start. After finding success in his first handful of starts, Anderson did struggle in July and August. He was later placed on the disabled list and it coincidentally lined up when Josh Tomlin was coming off the disabled list.
After returning from the DL in September, he posted an ERA of 1.38. He was awarded AL pitcher of the month and fashioned a really awesome beard over that time. Anderson benefited from the improved infield defense, as he’s a highly used groundball pitcher. Highly as in, 45.9% of his outs were via a groundball. Having guys like Giovanny Urshela and Francisco Lindor are truly wonderful for Anderson. It’s also shown in his 4.27 FIP this year. That’s way more than a whole run over his ERA. He should be buying lobster dinners for Urshela and Lindor after this season.
When the rotation looked like it was going to be pretty bleak outside the top three starters, Anderson and Tomlin really rounded it out nicely. With Anderson finishing off his rookie season, he has the ability to stay in this club’s rotation for quite a long time. He slides right into a rotation filled with young, controllable starters and has almost no reason to leave it anytime soon.
Flirting with a no-hitter, reaching his goal of pitching in the MLB, and no longer chopping wood in the offseason. Things sound pretty great for Anderson right now, and who knows what we’ll see out of him come 2016.
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